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Do I need a structural engineer?

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Many people tend to get confused about what they need a structural engineer for. Here at Zussmanbear, we have outlined what a structural engineer is, when you might require one and how much they cost so that you can determine whether you need one.

What is a structural engineer?
A structural engineer is an engineer that specialises in building structure. They will design, plan and oversee the construction of structures such as buildings. A structural engineer will often act as a consultant to an architect or building contractor, calculating loads, defining the spec of a project and which materials and structural systems to use during construction, such as wood, steel or concrete.

The structural engineer will assess the safety, strength and durability of the building or structure to determine its structural integrity.

Structural inspections

A structural engineer can also carry out a structural property survey. They will inspect the construction of your property to determine any issues with its structure such as subsidence or sagging roofs. A chartered survey will highlight structural issues and recommend a closer inspection be carried out by a structural engineer.

When do I need a structural engineer?

You might need a structural engineer when carrying out a renovation on your home or making changes to your property that could affect the stability of your property. A structural engineer can work with your building contractor and architect by offering vital information that is indispensable to the renovation process, including structural drawing and calculations. This information may also be necessary when gaining planning permission and complying with building control regulations.

Whether you will need a structural engineer for your next renovation project will depend on the project in hand, but they are often required for extensions, solar panels and loft conversions.

Expert witness

A structural engineer can also act as an expert witness. If you enter into a disagreement over structural issues with another party, such as a boundary dispute, an engineer can offer an unbiased perspective to help resolve the issue.

How much will a structural engineer cost?

The cost to hire a structural engineer can vary depending on the size and scope of the project and what is required of the engineer. It is advised to ask for a breakdown of costs so that you know exactly what you are getting from your structural engineer.

New trends in construction and building

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The commercial building industry has experienced a lot of growth in the recent years. Its transformation is mainly from the technological advancement and improvements in the project management techniques.

It is hard to predict the future of the built environment but there are many standout trends to watch in the years to come.

The following trends are some of the most profound commercial building trends that project managers should look forward to this year…

Project management software

Real-time project management is improving and optimizing the fundamental pillars of a construction project. It’s contribution to the building process is critical, as it enables data drive decision making in an industry where 95% of data are thrown away or not collected at all.

Building information modelling

This considers the most important thing in a construction project. Collaboration. More contractors are implementing BIM technology in their work processes.


Robotics are always gaining ground in construction projects. The use of robots, during the building process, can accelerate repetitive tasks on site. Robotics have still got a long way to go but in the future, it is expected to introduce a cheaper and more efficient way to work on site.

VR and AR

Virtual reality can provide a virtual walk through in order to sell property and pitch architectural ideas to clients. In construction this can be used to provide safety training to workers.


Drone technology can be used in mapping and planning the construction site, reporting project changes and to update clients on the job site.

Modular construction

Modular buildings are the development of a building structure off-site, and then transporting it to the site without compromising on quality.

As you can see there is a lot of excitement for the construction and building industry! We will see a lot of progress in the next year in both these sectors. Keep an eye out and see where the industry is next year.

The future of architecture…

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Architecture is an ever-changing industry and can be shaped by the modern world in an instant, it’s often a hard thing to predict.

With new designs and materials coming all the time, it’s a trade that always stays exciting while transforming the cities around you.

The last few years have seen dramatic changes to the construction world, special concepts are growing out of fashion, while crowd-funding and collaborative approaches to design has seen a wider eye cast on renewable materials and energy efficiency.

This is a pivotal movement for the industry as the world looks at the effects of climate change more, it is up to the industry to become more savvy in how it embraces renewable sources.

Another exciting trend that we may se immerse itself in the construction industry is virtual reality. Imagine being able to walk through a design of a building and see exactly how it would look like before the foundations had even been laid. Virtual reality and 3D design would be a great asset in the architecture business in being able to build exactly what clients want and them being able to experience it beforehand.

Smart cities are becoming closer and closer with data collection becoming a vital part in modern life, something that architecture and design will have no choice but to embrace in the future.

Soon we will be able to monitor everything from sensors around the city will allow us to monitor energy consumption along with a whole host of data that we can use to improve construction in the future.

How are buildings and the construction industry changing in response to climate change?

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The levels of atmospheric CO2 are rising year on year and climate change couldn’t be further at the front of people’s minds. With the sheer scale and use of resources in the construction industry, there lies a responsibility to be more and more efficient with how they are used. At Zussman Bear, we are always adapting to use the latest technology and best practise to ensure that we do not aid the problem of climate change.

Globally, the construction industry accounts for 25% of GHG emissions and so it’s vital to adapt to make the structural process more efficient, along with the buildings themselves.

Resilient designs have come about with the increasing focus and fear of climate change, this is where the structural engineers construct with extreme conditions in mind. For example, implementing designs geared to fight flood risks due to the rising sea levels and the increase in bad weather.

A bigger issue in cities is urban heat island (UHI) caused by an increased number of dark surfaces, a lack of vegetation, and the ability of light to reflect off of and absorb into more surfaces in cities with tall buildings, making things hotter and thus the use of air conditioning systems rise. With this in mind, structural design can include white and other light colours or reflective materials.

What are the most sustainable building materials?

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As time goes on the focus and need for sustainable materials in the building and structural engineering world grows.

The responsibility lies with everyone who is in the trade and so we’ve identified four sustainable building materials that can be used in the future.

Solar Tiles are a great alternative to the traditional concrete or clay. While they protect the building from the elements much like the standard tiles, they also absorb power from the sun.

This power can be harnessed and used which saves you money in the long run, along with being environmentally friendly.

Upping the efficiency of your windows is another option to improve your carbon footprint. This can include moving to double glazing or even triple with three panes of glass.

The super-efficient windows use full-insulated frames to prevent as much heat loss as possible. Further to this, instead of argon, they inject krypton between each pane of glass which is a much better insulator.

Looking for alternatives to traditional bricks is another great way of saving energy and can even improve your structure. Wool bricks are 37% stronger than their traditional counterparts and are made by adding wool and a natural polymer found in seaweeds to the clay of the bricks.

The process in making them doesn’t require you to fire it to make them dry unlike normal bricks and so this makes them much more sustainable and saves you energy in the long run.

Finally, concrete is one of the most used building materials in the construction industry and represents up to 10% of Co2 emissions,  so seeking an alternative to this would prove a very efficient option.

For example, Timbercrete is a mixture of sawdust and concrete and although it is lighter than solid concrete, it is a much better insulation option.

To see more about the structural engineering industry, head over to our website and contact us with any questions you may have!

Recent trends in structural engineering

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The world is and has always been constantly changing and growing around us. No other group of people feels the impact going on around us more severely than structural engineers.

Structural engineers are always having to tackle how to shape our lives and the structures that shelter us in order to meet the demands of our changing world. This demand gives way to new solutions, many of which catch on within the industry and develop into new yearly trends.

Transformation of funding and technique

2017 has bought some huge changes to the engineering field, especially in terms of how it’s performed at it’s most basic level. New innovations are allowing the process to be streamlined, creating new and better chances for collaboration between engineers and their teammates.

Construction builders now have access to better learning tools, creating higher amounts of specialised staff who are better able to help construct more safe and efficient buildings. Structural engineering services across the country are beginning to start taking place on green building by finding ways to reduce the energy consumption of new projects. All three innovations are designed to make the engineering process a little easier.

Modular construction

Modular construction is another new innovation to unfold recently, inspired by the need to put together buildings more quickly without sacrificing their integrity. Construction professionals put together buildings by stacking box units against each other. It’s an efficient process mostly reserved for commercial building projects, such as skyscrapers.

Sustainable materials

The road towards sustainability has yet to falter and has even paved the way to new materials that are starting to make waves within the industry! Structural engineers have designed technology to boost building safety, such as systems designed to detect seismic activity and the buildings reaction and resistance to it. Engineers have also come up with tools using 3D printing and concrete that can repair itself of any damage. Time will only tell what other forms of technology will arise in the next few years, but we believe the future is bright!

Make sure you look out for more structural engineering trends to rise this year as they are all beneficial! We hope to watch these trends continue and grow into the next year.

To see more about the structural engineering industry, head over to our website and contact us with any questions you may have!

What is the role of a structural engineer?

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Have you ever thought about the massive buildings that are around us or the people behind the making of these amazing structures? All this work is done by structural engineers.

These structural engineers design, create, solve problems, innovate by the use of maths and science to form the world we live in. The structures they build from, homes, theatres, sports stadiums, bridges, and more. They work alongside other highly trained professionals such as, architects and surveyors to ensure that all the buildings can stay up whatever the weather.

Structural engineers work in offices and on construction sites. Depending on the size of their project, they may also be required to work long hours – in teams consisting of professional, skilled and semi-skilled workers.

Structural engineers must have a strong understanding on physics, and creative problem solving. Outside of an ability to apply principles of mechanics, mathematics and physics to construct safe, sustainable buildings, the roles and responsibilities of structural engineers include:


Many structural engineers are involved in the design of the structures! This involves calculating the loads and stresses the construction will have to safely withstand. The structural engineers will be able to factor in the different qualities and strengths.


Before the work starts, structural engineers have to do an investigation and survey of build sites to see the suitability of the earth for the requirements of the upcoming project.


Structural engineers will be required to consult with other members on their projects, including engineers, scientists and architects.


Structural engineers are responsible for the organisation and delivery of materials and equipment for the needs of the construction project.


There are many safety issues involved in their work so structural engineers must be trained to strict standards. They require a related undergraduate degree in an engineering discipline. After graduation, structural engineers work towards professional qualifications.

Check out some of the buildings that we have designed for our clients or contact us today if you’re looking for some more advice or information.

What is the future of structural engineering?

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The structural engineering industry is being hit by many different changes at the moment but if you are just starting out in the industry or their career journey then they can look forward to a very exciting future of developments.

Structural engineering is one of the main parts of the construction industry. Without the qualified structural engineers, architecture wouldn’t have kept evolving and pushing the boundaries. One way to see that is by checking out the London skyline! The industry has definitely changed a lot over the past decade but what does the future hold for structural engineering?

Responsibilities will be the same

It is difficult to see the definition of a structural engineer changing too much within the next decade. We always need an engineer’s services as they are essential to us all. Buildings wouldn’t be constructed safely without them! Of course, they will still be responsible for designing and looking into a structure that will support a building or other kind of construction.

More complex structures

The structural engineering sector is constantly growing and changing! The architecture has been evolving especially! There has been a real increase in buildings that are fluid and organic in recent years and this architecture is always causing new challenges for structural engineers. As the designs are becoming more complex and the architects begin to get more ambitious the engineers will find it increasingly challenging.

Technology is more advance

The ever-growing technology can be a key factor in the next few years. A structural engineer has the chance to gain new skills as the technology industry forever evolves. An engineer’s role may soon show the creative side of design too! This doesn’t mean that technology is taking over structural engineering it means that technology is allowing a structural engineer to collaborate with other experts in construction and learn their skills.

Positive future

The best time to join the structural engineering industry is now, there has never been a more exciting time. The sector is in for massive development, and the job itself is to set to evolve into something that encompasses so much more than the traditional concepts of structural design. As our buildings keep getting taller and our needs change, a structural engineer will step up to the plate and show us all what a great design and creative thinking can really do.

Platinum House

3 ways that structural engineers can help create a zero waste future

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Rethinking production and the life cycle

Despite much progression and plenty of effort, there is still a very big problem among the construction industry – excessive waste.

The overriding problem with waste in construction is the maintenance and asset management of buildings, with limited data available in order to monitor the building’s condition. When a building nears the end of it’s lifespan, there isn’t enough data to practice selective demolition which could save part of the structure and reduce waste, there is certainly room to develop regulations and procedures to recover some of this waste.


By using the word ‘disassembly’ over ‘demolition’ there’s a larger focus on each part being available to detach easily and separated. This would allow some parts of the construction that are in good condition to be re-used in other projects.

The automotive industry is a prime example for this, and there are some parts of the construction industry that are following suit. Steel, aluminium and copper are recycled into secondary production streams, while concrete is re-used as filler in future mixes. By embracing technology and other digital platforms, this should help the transition into disassembly becoming more common practice.

Circular Building

 The circular house project shows that a circular building approach using entirely re-usable components is possible, demonstrated recently by Arup.

While there is plenty of room for improvement in terms making circular buildings more attractive to investors along with mitigating potential risks, regulations can aid this. A governance-level approach should be enough to help transition this in the future along with educating shareholders on the benefits.

Waldegrave Road

Five reasons to be a structural engineer

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Our ideas and plans become real
Structural engineers enjoy the success and sense of achievement that come with finishing a project we have been working on. These projects can range from, skyscrapers, bridges or houses. The skills possessed by a structural engineer are vital during the design stage of any plan in order to bring it to life. We are involved in creating beautiful structures, useful structures and even record-breaking structures. The work you do as an engineer is incredibly gratifying at the end.

Long-lasting work
Engineers work is supposed to last a very long time. We design buildings that should last for over 50 years. We like to plan so that our structures can be used and enjoyed by thousands of people on a daily basis. We also love to change an old building to make it feel brand new again! We can renovate and construct the buildings that were built decades ago to make them stand out.

Structural engineers use lots of different skills. From basic physics, mathematical tools, the latest technology and overall, we use communication all the time! We meet many groups of people in our job, and we need to work collaboratively with them to make sure we are successful in completing projects on time. Structural engineers are the problem solvers in any design team, developing solutions to the challenges construction projects throw at us.

A safer world
Structural engineers always ensure that every building we design is secure to use. We also help the society notice the most significant problems such as climate change or even disaster relief. We ensure that buildings are built to stay up during earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters, and we carry out comprehensive research for each project to reduce the risk of anything adverse occurring. We also minimise the impact construction has on our planet and we work to make the best use of the resources we have.

Structural engineering is not an easy profession, but it is a gratifying job. We are very much respected by other construction professionals as they value our skills. The skills we possess are instrumental in every project we take on, in order to overcome challenges and to ensure the safety of every building.
There are many reasons why you should become a structural engineer and why it is such a rewarding job.
If you are looking for any more advice or information, then visit our website or call our friendly team today.